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August 29, 2012 at 14:19 PM EDT
Hooters, All Grown Up and Ready To Rebrand
Image from: Hooters Girls / My DIY Angels If you haven’t been to Hooters then you’ve at least heard about it. You’ve passed it on the highways, you’ve seen it referenced in pop culture, you’re familiar with the campy uniforms on the waitresses. The point? Even if this is not a place you see yourself [...]

Hooters Girls

Image from: Hooters Girls / My DIY Angels

If you haven’t been to Hooters then you’ve at least heard about it. You’ve passed it on the highways, you’ve seen it referenced in pop culture, you’re familiar with the campy uniforms on the waitresses. The point? Even if this is not a place you see yourself dining, you still have an explicitly designed idea of what the chain has to offer. This is no small feat for a brand, but recently Hooters has been making an attempt to revitalize themselves, to unembed themselves from what might just be an ultimately restrictive niche market known as ‘breastaurants.’

In a piece from AdvertisingAge, entitled ‘Hooters: We’re More Than Wings Gone Wild,’ CMO Dave Henninger is quoted as seeing Hooters as “a bigger place” than just being “all about the girls.” The girls are sticking around, of course, but the company is positioning itself to expand towards an image that doesn’t exclude as many customers. This means appealing to younger folks, and women, enriching the menu and improving food service.

Will this work? It’s hard to tell, but taking a look at Hooters.com’s demographics it’s obvious they know who they’ve been appealing to thus far.

Demographics of Hooters.com

Let’s be frank: the distinct majority of visits to their site are male, most are closer to being middle aged, and the highest represented income level is between 60k-100k. This, to Hooters, is the reality of their current clientele, and this rebranding is an effort to expand their scope without alienating their current base.

Daily Search Referrals to Hooters.com

And what are people looking for on Hooters.com? Checking their search referrals, it looks like the girls may not be the exclusive focus. ‘Hooters menu’ ranks second, after all.

The best way to figure out what a site can be doing to heighten engagement is to see where it’s losing visitors to, so I took the liberty of checking Hooters’ outgoing traffic. The results (below) are not all that shocking, but they set a bad forecast for the rebranding effort. Hooterscalendar.com and Hootersmagazine.com, two entities that are a bit endowed with their features of the infamous Hooters girls, are within the top ten highest volumes of outgoing traffic.

Monthly Outgoing Traffic from Hooters.com

Will taking the brand’s focus off the girls result in a more diffuse attraction in the minds of its current customers? Or will it wipe the rust off the chain and attract the broader audience it seeks to tap into it? It’s hard to tell, but one thing is for sure; Hooters is all about a dining experience, and no matter what they do they’re going to do with a measurable amount of flare. And chicken wings.

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